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Migrants into Britain

In 2016, one of the big campaign lies was about how Turkey was going to join the EU any minute now. They didn't spell it out directly, but the words left unsaid were that a group of people from an Islamic country would have full rights, as EU citizens, to flood into the UK.

Fast forward half a decade, and the UK is planning to welcome five thousand Afghan nationals, with a longer term target of around 20,000. Those are the official figures.

You know, it would be funny if it wasn't so damned depressing. Afghanistan is a military and political mess that came in the weeks following the terrorist attacks in New York in 2001, and Britain's part in it is Blair not having the balls to say No to Bush.
In the twenty years since, the influence of the west had started to make some form of civil progression in the country, especially regarding the rights of females. But as time dragged on, and on, and on, and on... not a lot changed on the ground. There was no viable win scenario. America has yet to understand that nation building is a process that takes a long time, decades, if you want to do it with majority support and not as crazed dictators. This is, of course, assuming that the majority actually wanted their nation built in the style of a western democracy, which was arguably not the case.
So now, in another of Trump's master strokes of messing up international relations, he made a historic deal with the Taliban for the removal of American troops. Which has come to pass. They're all home now.
But the legacy of this? Firstly, the country has been taken back by a group of Islamic hotheads that don't hold much regard for women. Pretty much all of the progress of the last twenty years has been thrown away. It's not a surprise that people are fleeing. They've had a glimpse of the modern world, and they see themselves sliding back to the Dark Ages.
But more than that, the rescue/evacute process had a fixed time limit that was adhered to. Everybody that got out will have to resettle in another country. Time will tell how they will be treated. I don't imagine Priti Patel's immigration policies to be much comfort.
But more even than that, the fate of those left behind. The ones who helped the west, and have now been more or less left to look out for themselves.
This might end up being a rather stark warning to people who would help us in other countries.

I just cannot but help wonder about the long term consequence of this. Arguably, the illegal invasion of Afghanistan never should have happened, and the past twenty years ending with this abject failure have been more likely to increase the risk of terrorism, not decrease it. Firstly, because it's a pretty bold statement that with time and perseverence, the west (particularly America) can be beaten, and secondly because the influence of Saudi Arabia in the events that started this sorry saga has been mostly swept under the carpet because, hey, don't upset our "friends", right?

With the abandonment of Afghanistan, the "war on terror" has pretty much fizzled out. It was not a victory. If anything, the global situation is a lot worse now than in 2001. But, then, I suppose when one is dumb enough to start a war against a concept, and when their own actions are virtually indestinguishable from the acts of terrorism they deplore, such a "war" is pretty much doomed to failure from the very start.

 

Sorry, I'm an introvert

No, really. I live alone in the middle of nowhere. I don't socialise. I don't like groups of people. I think it was a pretty big deal that I went to Nantes, a place full of people. And at work, I've managed to carve out a little role for myself where I do my job peacefully by myself.
I can attempt to be sociable when needed, but pretty much just leave me the hell alone. I'm not broken, this is just how I am.

Classic introvert, on the far side of the introvert scale.

So it was amusing to try a little test on Buzzfeed. The idea, you have 99 songs and you can only burn 12 onto a blank CD. Pick which twelve, and it'll be "pretty obvious" whether you're an introvert, extrovert, or an ambivert from your song choices.

  • "Africa", Toto.
  • "Bohemian Rhapsody", Queen.
  • "Brown Eyed Girl", Van Morrison.
  • "Don't Stop Believin'", Journey.
  • "Dreams", Fleetwood Mac.
  • "Fix You", Coldplay.
  • "Hotel California", Eagles.
  • "Love Story", Taylor Swift.
  • "Piano Man", Billy Joel.
  • "Take Me Home, Country Roads", John Denver.
  • "Total Eclipse of the Heart",Bonnie Tyler.
  • "When Doves Cry", Prince.

Result? You're an extrovert!

Oops, no. Just no.
Oops, no. Just no.

Actual result: Your test is unbelievably wrong!

Admittedly, I didn't recognise a fair few of the songs listed, I picked those I knew and wouldn't mind listening to (which is why Taylor Swift over Neil Diamond, for example). There's nothing wrong with Sweet Caroline, other than it's not something I'd care to listen to regularly enough to burn onto a CD. Swift in her country days? Better.

If I had to burn a CD to listen to... hmm...

  • "The Seven Angels", Avantasia; 14.17.
  • "Someone You Used To Know", The Dark Element; 4.21.
  • "Harvest", Nightwish; 5.14.
  • "Hold Me", L'Âme Immortelle; 4.43.
  • "Haunted", Shadow Gallery; 9.36.
  • "Nitrogen Pink", Polly Scattergood; 5.04.
  • "Holes", Passenger; 3.35.
  • "Raven Wing", Iced Earth; 6.33.
  • "Legions of the Lost", Delain; 5.17.
  • "End Of Days", ShadowIcon; 6.04.
  • "Once Upon A Nightmare", Epica; 7.08.
  • "Lullaby", Xandria; 2.45.
There's my ~74 minutes of mix CD. Interestingly, I managed to put twelve songs on to it, given that the first and fifth songs add up to nearly 24 minutes alone!
But, alas, not a one of those choices was present in the list...

 

La Poste - what the hell?

So I sent my passport back, with international tracked post, on Tuesday after work.

The update, yesterday...

Angleterre, you morons!
ANGLETERRE, you morons!

La Poste passed it on to DHL who says it's currently being handled by Deutsche Post. I've sent an enquiry to them with the help of Google Translate, so hopefully it might flag up somewhere that it's in the wrong country.

Trying to find La Poste's online help resulted in a 404. Great work, guys. I'm going to have to phone them, because their on-line contact thing (once you find it) tries to be clever and fails. It utterly fails to cope with international addresses. It wanted a five digit postcode... when knowing that the destination country is the UK. It wasn't going to accept "00000" because that didn't match the town specified. Of course, rather than highlighting the failed field like the Deustche Post one did, La Poste just said that some necessary information was incorrect, please correct it and try again.

Plus, this. What is this crap?

Date fail.
Date fail.

The lettre was sent on Tuesday 31st August. FFS, does La Poste have a bunch of stagiaires (interns) running things right now?

 

So, let's recap:

  • La Poste got the date of sending completely wrong.
  • And their on-line form can't cope with international addresses, a big fail for a postal service.
  • And all of this has become evident because they sent it to the wrong f'king country!

 

Thankfully, it wasn't anything important like, say, an expired passport which is necessary for the renewal to be processed........

 

 

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Rick, 5th September 2021, 13:09
I tried calling the passport office, however on a Sunday (perhaps?) it was an estimated 45 minute wait. I let it go for five minutes, then hung up - in a couple of days I'll check to see if this cost anything. I get free calls to UK landlines, but I don't know if 0300 numbers are special tariff or not.
John, 5th September 2021, 13:55
I don't really care if I'm introvert or extrovert but these are some tracks I've selected for my funeral, if I have one at all! 
 
Cremation seems the best option 
 
I have ATM 10 MP3 tracks to use - not in any particular order:: 
 
Flatt & Scrugs: Duelling Banjos 
Although I like the Deliverance version, this is the definitive version for me! 
 
From my experience. 
 
Branford Marsalis: Pavane 
This is the best version I've found with the choir and instrumentalists. 
 
Davy Graham - Angi 
What a musician: I have played my own version of this for many years, and nobody ever recognises it at at all! 
 
OK, there's the Deliverance version as well! 
 
Down by the River - Neil Young's guitar solo in this reminds me so much of a younger me! So flawed! 
 
Nimrod - a great piece of music! Very peaceful! 
 
Every Day Hurts - Sad CafĂ©, a Manchester band I discovered second-hand from an LP that Janette (Irene's sister, who died tragically in a road traffic incident) had. The LP encompasses so many styles, not in imitation, but in celebration, that I find it truly inspirational! 
 
Spinning Wheel - the brass, the intervals, the dynamics! And the voice! David Clayton-Thomas! 
 
Variations on a Theme: From the Blood, Sweat & Tears LP - Satie: Gymnopedie- perfect! But any version would do! 
 
Miles Davis' Nefertiti - I sing/hum along with this! Obviously only whilst still alive! 
David Boddie, 5th September 2021, 19:02
I had to renew my passport ahead of schedule in 2019 and experienced some of what you're dealing with now. In my case, I filled in the forms online then sent my passport back to the UK with registered post. I tracked it all the way from Norway back to the UK where the Royal Mail lost it at their Gatwick sorting facility. 
 
They wouldn't do anything about it until a certain number of days have passed. By then, there's not much they can do about it. The UK Passport Office told me to report it as lost and fill in a lost passport claim, redoing all the work from before except that, instead of being online, it all had to be on paper and signed by a character witness. 
 
Of course, once the second form fortunately made its way through the post to the Passport Office, the passport suddenly reappeared. 
 
One final note. When I spoke to the Norwegian postal service about it, they told me that the customs/security services here tend to take a closer look at mail that they suspect contains things like passports. They imagined that it also happens in the UK. 
 
Anyway, I hope your passport gets to the right country, then actually gets to the final destination.
flahute, 6th September 2021, 11:27
DHL are owned by Deutsche Post. UK passports are printed in Poland so it's probably transiting the DHL/DP hub in Leipzig.
Rob, 7th September 2021, 23:01
03 numbers should be treated exactly the same as 01/02 landline numbers. This is a legal imposition by Ofcom for UK telcos, but it's possible your phone company might have their own rules. saynoto0870.com has some normal landline numbers you can try if you are being charged.
Rick, 7th September 2021, 23:46
I recall there was a special tariff 0345 that was supposed to be local rate, but once upon a time calling that from overseas would often get you screwed as it wasn't counted as a normal tariff number. The NatWest have mom the direct number of her branch when they found out how much it was costing to call their special number. 
 
I've just looked, and the call was free. 
 
However, I think flahute was right on the money. I wrestled with the La Poste automatic system which seemed to have no way to speak to an actual human. So I called up the Banque Postale information line and explained that I knew it was the wrong number but I really needed to speak to someone. He took the tracking number and told me that my letter would soon be delivered in Germany, nothing to worry about. 
I told him it was addressed to England. 
"Oh........." 
He put me through to one of the parcel centre advisors who came straight on the line and said it was nothing to worry about, it can be been sent to a centre of "regroupement" and from there it will go on to the UK. 
Which it appears to be doing as of this afternoon. The DHL site now says it is on its way to the UK (rather then "has been handed the Deutsche Post for processing"). 
So it seems that most of the problems here are because of the shonky La Poste website that still says it's been handed to the Germans... 
 
Phew!
David Pilling, 8th September 2021, 13:18
The most telling thing was Gordon Brown circa 2009 as PM saying the government in Afghanistan was corrupt - so why was he propping it up with blood and treasure - how else was it going to end. 
A lot of outrage on the news, all from the same point of view - "we must do something". But Biden, the man in charge has a different view, and so it seems do the vast majority of people living in Afghanistan. 
I would put Blair and the previous Afghanistan regimes on the first plane back - it's not a death sentence, they have a great deal of money, enough to buy an army. 

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